This in an update to a previous post.
To the extent that a recording artist (versus an entertainer) is the sum of his or her songs, I am going to stipulate that song-adoption equates to artist-adoption.
I effectively use this formula when working with industry startups and artists to concisely communicate (usually on a bar napkin) the challenges that artists face as they attempt to obtain marketplace traction for their songs.
I have updated the formula (below) to recognize the importance of placing unknown songs into a series of songs that are familiar to listeners (the Adjacent Song Factor).
Fans = L * OFR * SSR * RR * ASF
Fans = Listeners * Optimal Frequency Rate * Social Situation Rate * Resonation Rate * Adjacent Song Factor
- Listeners - a song obviously needs as many listeners as possible.
- Optimal Frequency Rate - a song needs maximum spins (plays) within a compact span of time.
- Social Situation Rate - a song benefits from maximum socialization during that same time period.
- Resonation Rate - the percentage of listeners that a song easily resonates with.
- Adjacent Song Factor - the frequency rate in which a song is placed into a series of familiar songs.
The formula stipulates that for a song to obtain maximum traction, all the variables in the formula have to push up and max out. If you plug the formula into a spreadsheet and play around with scenarios, you will notice (it’s all multiplication), that a single low variable sinks a song (this is important). In other words, you need ALL the variables to work for you to maximize the conversion rate from listeners to fans.
Here’s an extended description of the variables:
Listeners (L) is the variable that equals the number of listeners (not fans but receptive listeners) that have frictionless access to your song via a download, a music stream, a broadcast, or by way of receiving your CD.
Optimal Frequency Rate (OFR)
It’s often stated that falling in love with a song is a complex process. For the purpose of this post, I am going to speculate that a song needs to be heard by the average person at least 10 times within 60 days to make a shallow (but lasting) memory imprint. Therefore, 10 spins within 60 days equals the Optimal (maximum) Frequency Rate of 100%.
Less spins over a longer time period equates to a lower Optimal Frequency Rate.
Social Situation Rate (SSR)
Once again, the imprinting/socialization process is complex. Most (young) people need social cues (signals from others) to believe in (adopt and evangelize) a song. When people spin songs in a vacuum (think about the lone iPod user with headphones on), they are less likely to have an imprinting experience than during a shared/social listening session.
Social settings (where social cues are gathered) range from listening to songs with friends, to hearing songs at a club or party, to sharing/playlisting/promoting songs to friends online. In a perfect world, 100% of a song’s early spins would occur within a social situation; this would equate to a Social Situation Rate of 100%.
All social situations are not created equal. If you want to be more specific, assign varying weights to different social situation types.
Resonation Rate (CR)
Resonation Rate is the subjective component of the formula. Listeners are going to love your song(s) along a spectrum. A percentage of listeners (this would be the resonation rate) are going to adopt your song, while others won’t give it a second listen.
Adjacent Song Factor (ASF)
A recent study has shown that listeners easily tire of screening unfamiliar songs. The more often that a song is played within a playlist or stream of familiar songs, the higher the Adjacent Song Factor is going to be.
Now in simple terms…
You need a ton of listeners; a lot of spins within a compact time period; spins that occur within social situations have more impact; you obviously need a great song; and your songs are more likely to be received when sandwiched between pre-existing hits. Sounds like radio doesn’t it?